Admited to the Union as the 33rd state on Feb. 14, 1859, Oregon comprises an area of startling physical diversity, from the moist rain forests, mountains, and fertile valleys of its western third to the naturally arid and climatically harsh eastern deserts. Mountains, plateus, plains, and valleys of different geologic ages and materials are arrayed in countless combinations, including such natural wonders as the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon Caves National Monument, Crater Lake National Park, the majestic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Ra ange, and the “moon country” of central Oregon. The name Oregon is thought to be Indian in orgin.

To the north of the state’s 97,073 square miles (251,419 square kilometres)of land and inland water lies Washington, from which Oregon receives the waters of the Columbia River; to the east, Idaho, more than half of the border with which is formed by the winding Snake River and its Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge on the North American continent; to the south, Nevada and California, wi ith which Oregon shares its mountain and desert systems; and, to the west, the Pacific Ocean, which produses the moderate climate of Oregon’s western lands.

The forested mountains of western and northeastern Oregon have supplied the traditional core of the state’s ec

conomy. Its many forest-product plants produce more than one-fith of the nation’s softwood lumber, much of its soft plywood, and large quantites of hardboard, pulp, and paper. Nationally, Oregon ranks first in the production of wood products. In addition, the multipurpose development of the Columbia River system provides huge quantites of electrcity, water for irrigation and industry, shipping channels, and water for recreation. The hearthland the major cities of Portland, Eugene, and Salem (the capital) and a rich diversified agriculture.

THE LAND.Relief.oregon has nine major landform regions. Of them the forest-blanketed Coast Range, which borders the Pacific Ocean from the Coquile River northward, is the lowest. Its elevations are usually below 2,000 feet, but Marys Peak, southwest of Co orvallis, reaches 4,098 feet (1,249 metres).

The Klamath Mountains, which extend from California, lie south of the Coast Range and west of the Cascades. Of ancient resistant rocks, they have had a complicated geologic history. They are higher and more rugged than the Coast Range and lack the north-south orentation. The Rogue River, bisecting the area, provides the major drainage. Thick forests grow on these mountains, which also contain rich mineral deposits.

The Willamete valley is essentaly an alluval plain produced burying stream- modifed lo
owland with enormous quantites of sediments brought down by tributary streams from the bordering mountains. The low, hilly areas in the central and northern poritons are composed of resistant rocks. This valley contains the prime land of the state, and its soils aupport intensive agriculture.

The Cascade Range forms a broad lava plateau.the wider western section is deeply eroed by numerousstreams fed by heavy precipitation. The eastern section, less dissected, is crowned with a chain of volcanic peaks. Mount Hood, reaching 11,239 feet (3,428 metres) above sea level, is the higest peak in Oregon, and Mount Jefferson, rising to 10,497 feet(3,199 metres), is the second higest.

The Blue Wallowa mountains comprise two higland masses in the northeastern part of the state. The name Blue Mountains refers to the eroded plateus and ranges extending westward from the agriculturally important La Grande and Baker valleys. Basins and valleys, headquarters for large cattle ranches, are scattered throughthe Blue Mountains. The Wallowa Mountains, east of the La Grande and Baker valleys and near the Idaho border, contain the higest elevations in northeastern Oregon. They were heavily glaciated and display spectacular scenery.

The area of the High Lava Plains, or High Desert, is located south of the Blue Mountains and eastward fr
rom ythe Cascade Range. It is the youngest and least eroded of the landform regions of Oregon, but the smoothness of the surface is broken by cinder cones, buttes, and craters; other features include immatury of erosion and localized interior drainage. Low preciptation, short and eratic growing seasons, and the absence of soil in many places result in an arid landscape of skimpy vegetation, with the details of the surface features commonly visible.

The Great Basin of the Basin and Range Province to the south, which merges with the High Lava Plains, has long, narrow, asymmetrical fault block ranges that alternate with wide basins. Small volcanoes are numerous in the western portion, where pumice modifies surface runoff, vegetation, and land use. Irrigation agriculture is practiced in the Upper Klamath Lake area, and hay is grown with irrigation in a number of other basins and valleys, but most of this region is used by range livestock.

Climate. Oregon’s climates range from equable, mild, marine conditions on the coast to continental conditions of dryness and extreme temperature in the interior. Location with respect to the ocean, prevailing wind and storm paths, and topography and elevation are the principal climatic control factors.

The narrow coastal area an
nd the bordering mountain slopes are marine influenced. Temperatures are mild and equable.

The lowlands of the Willimette. Umpqua, and middle Rogue rivers are warmer in summer, slightly cooler in winter, and have less precipitation than the coast.

The Cascade Range has copious winter preciptation including phenomenal snow depth.and short, dry, sunny summers.

The north central Oregon plateu receives 10 to 20 inches of preciptation annually. Distibution is fairly even, but the majority of the rainy days occur in winter. Summers are warm and sunny.

The Blue-Wallowa mountains have climates that vary with location. The intermonate basins and valleys are similar to the north central plateu with colder winters. While the higer, exposed elevations receive heavy preciptation, much of it in the form of snow during winter.

Plant and animal life. Forests cover about 30,000,000 acres(12,000,000 hectares)of Oregon. In the eastern twothirds of the state, ponderosa pine, large sagebrush, and western juniper predominate, along with various annual grasses and wildflowers. Oregon’s animal life is related to its climatic zones. Deer and elk flourish in less populated parts; antelope are found in the eastern high plateu; and bear and fox, in the mountain foothils. The lakes are breeding grounds for waterfowl and resting places for migratory birds.

The people. Oregonians are predominantly white and American-born. There are small populations of Hispanics, blacks, and Asians. American Indians make up about 1 percent of the population. Roman Catholics from the largest single religious denomination but make up only one-third of all religious adherents.

The economy. Traditionaly, Oregon has had a resource oriented economy, strongly dependet upon its forests and farms. Through diversification, however, various new industries have been estabilished and tourism, recreation, and trade and service activities have grown.

Administration and social conditions. Government. The state constitution was adopted in 1857. Oregon has been in the vanguard of several innovative movements in U.S.government collectively known as the Oregon System. In 1907 the concepts of initiatve and referendum were introdused by which voters are able to initiate and vote upon statutes or constitutional revisions;these were suplemented in 1908 by the system of recall, under which the removal of elected offcials can be initiated by the voters. The state was also one of the earliest to impose a state income tax, which it did in1923.

The court system is headed by the seven-justice Superme Court which hasadministrative authority over all other courts. The justices, elected for six-year terms, elect one of their members as chief justice.

Education. The first free public school system was created by the territorial legislature in 1849. In 1951 the legislature estabilished a board of education, appointed by the governor. The constitution provides for an elected superintendent of public instruction.

Opportunities for education after high school are provided by community colleges, a state system of higher education composed of three universities(the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Portland State University), three regional colleges, two specialized schools, and several private colleges. The community colleges are adminstered by lay boards, supported by local taxes, and responsive to local needs in their curricula.

Health and welfare. The Department of Human Resources coordinates the activities of the state’s principal social service agencies. More than 250 programs provide service directly citizens. The Oregon Health Sciences University, ocated in Portland, includes schools of medicine, dentistry, and nursing, hospitals and outpatient clinics, and other facilities. The university’s Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research was one of the world’s first centres to focus on study of the molecular biology of the brain.

Cultural life. As a relatively young state and one in which the human imprint is scarcely visible over vast stretches of land, Oregon has not developed a cultural identity equivalent to those of the longer settled or more heavily populated regions. Its people, however, no less in the sparsely settled areas of the aest than in the population centres of the Willamette valley, take full part in the increasingly homogeniaus character of American life. Portland has large auditoriums and a coliseum. Theatrical and musical groups are found in all of the cities and larger towns, and the Origon Shakespearen Festival in Ashland draws thousands of viewers each summer. University and college communities have public offerings in the arts and other cultural activities.



Enciclopedy (1998 Yale, University of Washington,

Oregon State University)

Leave a Comment